Adrian Zecha is back, Azerai opens in Laos

Adrian Zecha, the hotelier who founded ultra-luxury resort group Aman with Amanpuri as its first resort back in 1988, has opened Azerai Luang Prabang in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Laos.

The hotel is the first for Azerai Hotels, a ‘new story and brand of hotels that offers guests simple elegance, refined design, discreet and attentive service in places of unique beauty and cultural interest’.

With its name inspired by the initials AZ and the Persian word caravanserai (a resting place with a central courtyard for travellers), Azerai Luang Prabang is the rebirth of the 1961 Phousi Hotel.

Following its closure in 2014, the hotel has undergone a complete renovation, now offering 53 open-plan rooms surrounding a 25-metre courtyard pool and 120-year-old banyan tree.

Rooms come in three categories, ranging from 35 to 85 sqm, with top-of-the-line Azerai rooms being the largest and featuring a private terrace or courtyard. Design will feel familiar to those that know Aman, with simple, clean lines and lots of wood in the floors, furniture, and louvered doors.

Adrian Zecha is back, Azerai opens in Laos 2

Azerai Bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering both western and Lao dishes. The bar has a veranda with views of Luang Prabang’s main street and night market. A poolside bar serves smoothies, cocktails and sharing platters, while there is also a lounge, library and event space. There is a gym and ‘Massage Retreat’ with treatment rooms for foot and body massages and a space for yoga classes.

With the aim to offer Aman-like service at more affordable prices, rates start from $250-$300 (excluding tax), depending on the season, although online reservations aren’t yet live on the hotel’s website. Other Azerai properties will follow, with rumoured destinations including Havana.

This year should also see the opening of Rosewood Luang Prabang, featuring 22 villas and tents just outside the city’s historic core.

Paul J DeVries